March 31, 2009

Sign up, Show up, Party, Program

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 8:55 am

Processing Time

Processing Time is a party and competition where individuals and pairs will code up beautiful programs. It’s happening at MIT on May 2 as part of the Boston Cyberarts Festival. We hope you can join us!

March 29, 2009

Awards, Articles, Conclusions

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 4:23 pm
  • The 2008 XYZZY awards, the Oscars of interactive fiction, were handed out yesterday. IF Comp winner Violet by Jeremy Freese garnered the big prize of Best Game as well as three other XYZZYs. Congrats also to winners Eric Eve, C.E.J. Pacian, Jim Munroe, Renee Choba, Paolo Maroncelli & Alessandro Peretti, and all those whose games were nominted.
  • A new issue of Eludamos has been published with articles on video game literacy, serious games, Loom, wipEout HD, and more.
  • I’m told that GDC is over.

March 28, 2009

Wolf Downloads

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 8:51 am

Go ahead. They’re little and red. By Tale of Tales, by Tomas Nilsson, by Donna Leishman, by Jason Ermer, by Gammick Entertainment, by Nick Montfort, by Roald Dahl, by Monty Python, by Tex Avery, by Kenneth Whitley.

The Society for Textual Scholarship Plays the Changes

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 7:50 am

Last week (March 18-21) I was at the Society for Textual Scholarship conference in New York City, at NYU. I took a few notes on the talks that seemed like they’d be of most interest to GTxA readers:

From the panel “Textual Studies and Video Games”

Matt Kirschenbaum: Preserving Virtual Worlds

The project takes a broad view of virtual worlds, from Zork to Doom to Second Life. They are fun, economically important, and platforms for creativity – and threatened, hard to preserve. Companies don’t preserve their own IP. DRM hinders preservation. Funded by NDIIPP. UIUC, Maryland, Stanford, RIT, Internet Archive, Linden Labs. Research preservation problems and approaches. Strategies: store, migrate, emulate, reinterpret. We deal with software, not data, and there’s a strong argument for emulation, as with facsimiles.

March 19, 2009

Touch Pets Had Playdate at Apple

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 12:14 am

Here’s a fun bit of news… My in-development virtual-pets-meets-social-networking iPhone game, Touch Pets Dogs, was one of a few new products demoed as part of the big iPhone 3.0 press event at Apple yesterday, showing off new features like microtransactions and push notifications.

For the curious, on the liveblog of the event scroll down to 10:54am to see images, as well as at 50mins 30secs on this video from The puppies were demoed by Neil Young and Chris Plummer of ngmoco, Touch Pets’ publisher.

March 17, 2009

Tokyo Garage

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 7:47 pm

Tokyo Garage is a remix of the classic and elegant generated nature poem Taroko Gorge by Nick Montfort. He wrote the code, which I did not feel the need to improve upon. I might well get sued for this piracy tribute. I hacked the words to make it more about urbanity, modernity, and my idea of Tokyo, a city I have never been to.

March 16, 2009

Chiptunes in a Nutshell

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 12:08 pm

Kevin Driscoll and Josh Diaz have a new article on the history of chiptunes in the Journal of Transformative Works. It comes complete with video clips that document game sounds with the images and game play that accompany them.

LAYOFF released today

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 8:02 am

Tiltfactor is at new digs and has another new game. Tilt and the multi-institutional Values at Play project are proud to announce the release of the new casual computer game, LAYOFF.
Layoff Game Image

Developed by members of the Tiltfactor Lab and the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) Game Design and Development program, LAYOFF is an examination of the current financial scandal.

March 13, 2009

Works in a Row

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 8:33 am

Works, Nick Montfort

In preparing for my reading at MIT yesterday, I put together a page listing my various works of literary and computational art, collaborative, translated or adapted, and individually created. You should notice the new addition to the main page of if you happen to visit.

The list includes some new pieces: Taroko Gorge, a poetry generator written originally in Python, presented here in my port to JavaScript, and ppg256-2, the second of my 256-character poetry generators written in Perl. You can see the former running on its Web page; the latter can be copied and pasted onto the command line of systems with Perl installed (that’s Mac OS X and Linux, by default) or consult the full instructions.

March 10, 2009

Racing the Beam Review and Interview

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 7:31 am

I’m glad to see these recent items about the book I wrote with Ian Bogost: Michael Agger reviewed Racing the Beam in Slate, providing a very nice description of our investigation of the VCS and the concept of platform studies. And, in The Boston Globe this Sunday, there’s an interview of yours truly by Geoff Edgers. In the interview, we discuss the lasting importance of the Atari VCS and some interesting aspects of the platform.

Update: Immediately after I posted this, I noticed Troy S. Goodfellow’s review that is just out in Crispy Gamer, “Print Screen: ‘Racing the Beam’ and ‘Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li’ – One of these is good.” He warns, appropriately,

March 6, 2009

Tune to Interview for Channel F

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 7:39 am

There’s a fascinating recent interview with Gerald A. Lawson, who was behind the Fairchild Channel F. The system was originally called the Fairchild Video Entertainment System or VES, and was the first cartridge-based video game console. Among other things, the rollout of this system apparently prompted Atari to finish and release one of my and Ian Bogost’s favorite systems, the Atari VCS, which had been in development.

As it happens, Jerry Lawson is black and was the son of a longshoreman. In the interview, he mentions his experience with TV repair – something he has in common with the first Atari employee, Al Alcorn, who Lawson knew. I sense from the interview that Lawson was the more text-oriented of the two:

I tried to sell Alan a character generator. He showed me the way he was doing it, which was much simpler, and I said, “Heck, there’s no sense using a character generator.” ‘Cause what he did was he decoded segments to make block lettering, numbering for score keeping [in Pong]. He really didn’t have need for anything else that was character oriented.

He did help fix Atari’s coin mechanisms, though – kids has been exploiting them to get free games.

March 5, 2009

ebr‘s Ebullience

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 4:09 pm

Threading through ebr (Electronic Book Review) in recent months are two longer pieces, “Electronic Literature: Where Is It?” by Dene Grigar and a mega-review called “Locating the Literary in New Media,” by Joe Tabbi. Also, note the response to Second Person and review of Half Life (the novel by Shelley Jackson, not the game) that are up.

American People: Please Oppose H.R. 801!

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 10:01 am

We’ve had some sometimes heated discussions on here about open access and academic publications.

Now, here in the U.S., Representative John Conyers (D-MI) has revived a bill that would reverse the NIH open access policy and ban other federal agencies from adopting similar policies. (There’s a longer, more detailed analysis of this H.R. 801, the Fair Copyright in Research Work Act, online, too.) It’s a real disappointment to me to see backtracking on one of the few areas where academics have been doing something really new and of social impact, making use of the Internet to better share our work. If you feel the same way, please write your representative about it. Of course, you can write if you feel differently, too, and in any case you can tell us why you stand where you do, by sharing your letter here or by leaving some other comment.

Here’s what I wrote to my representative:

March 4, 2009

Box Art Ain’t What It Used To Be

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 9:33 pm

Some claim that today’s video game box art isn’t up to par with, say, … Atari 2600 box art.

March 3, 2009

Play Call of Duty … If You Adhere to the Geneva Convention

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 4:47 pm

“Someone surrenders and you don’t just go and kill them anyways.”

March 2, 2009

Bot Colony to Generate and Understand Langauge

from Grand Text Auto
by @ 9:41 pm

North Side, Inc. is set to show a protoype of their sandbox adventure Bot Colony at GDC at the end of this month. Their page for the game promises:

This prototype will demonstrate the dialogue engine powering Bot Colony™, which implements Natural Language Understanding, Natural Language Generation and reasoning on very large knowledge bases. The game characters are intelligent agents that react to their environment. They have perception, exhibit goal-oriented behavior, and are capable of learning.

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